BIOs-POLAR: Legal frameworks for bioprospecting and bio-innovation in Polar Regions

The overall objective of the project is to analyse the legal conditions for academic and commercial use of genetic resources from polar areas.

Legal regulation of the use of genetic material from the polar areas is currently undergoing global legal and political discussions. Bioprospecting and bio-innovation have the potential to create high value products in pharmaceutical, cosmetics, food and other life science industries. Bioprospecting and bio-innovation have the potential to create high value products in pharmaceutical, cosmetics, food and other life science industries. Accordingly, it is important to understand how the potential value of genetic resources in the Arctic and Antarctic is affected by the legal conditions for access and rights to use the material over the long term. For Norway, marine and polar areas have always been of core interest for the exploration and exploitation of natural resources.

The research question is whether and how current legal uncertainty and flux concerning the regulation of the use of genetic resources create barriers for or facilitates commercial and academic activities. The BIOs-POLAR project consists of four research topics (“work packages” or WPs), each of which address this overall question through a combination of approaches. First, by exploring and mapping the current legal situation; second, by empirically analysing actual practices when it comes to patenting and academic publications; third, by studying how companies regard and react strategically to the current legal situation; and finally, by using the findings to assist possible future regulations by providing Norwegian policymakers with research and informing the ongoing negotiation processes in relevant forums.  The BIOs-POLAR project applies law as the main discipline, but also draws on social sciences, notably bibliometrics, scientometrics, quantitative analyses and political science in an interdisciplinary research project.

This project consists of four WPs:

WP 1: Exploring legal regulations of bio-innovation in the Polar Regions. WP to be led by the K.G. Jebsen Centre.

WP 2: Analysis of patent applications and academic publications. WP to be led by the United Nations University.

WP 3: Studying corporate strategies in relation to legal regulation of bio-innovation. WP to be led by the FNI.

WP 4: Exploring regulatory options for bio-innovation in the Polar Regions. WP to be led by the FNI.

BIOs-POLAR will be conducted by an inter-disciplinary team of specialists from law, biotechnology, and science from academic and research institutes in Norway and the UK. Project results will be publicised through academic publications, international peer-reviewed journals and book chapters. Project members will participate in public debates in Norway and internationally.

For more information about the project contact Tore Henriksen at the Centre.


Ansvarlig for prosjektet: Glen Jeffries

Skip to main content